A "tribute to the American stylist," American Look shows families at leisure, children dressed in cowboy and cowgirl outfits watching television, a father shooting home movies of his picnicking family, Fifties-modern home interiors graced by formally dressed models, furniture (including designs by Herman Miller), kitchens and kitchen equipment, packaging (including designs by Donald Deskey), appliances, textiles, offices and office furniture, office machines, industrial machines, lawn mowers and sprinklers, domestic and institutional architecture, people at leisure and enjoying recreation, children playing baseball, a mother and child in a transparent rowboat being observed by the snorkeling father, automobile styling and design and the work of the design staff of the new General Motors Technical Center at Warren, Michigan. The story behind the design of the 1959 Chevrolet Impala is shown, with dramatized moments in the design and modeling process.
The film lumps industrial, interior and product design efforts together as "styling," and characterizes them as responses by industry to insistent consumer demands for the most modern products and environment. During the last third of this twenty-eight-minute film, it becomes clear that it was produced to celebrate modern design as exemplified in the "look" of the 1959 Chevrolets, the year that tailfins stretched to their greatest extent. Since, in that year, many General Motors models shared similar mechanical components, the film promotes the many alternative design options available to car buyers, stating that "America's greatest freedom [is] the freedom of individual choice." This visually dazzling and technically excellent film presents a great variety of clean and antiseptic late Fifties products and environments, and those interested in design history would do well to listen closely to its narration.
January 21, 2014 Subject:
Unknown To Me At That Time
Except for the Hudson's store in the newly opened Eastland Shopping Center in Harper Woods, Michigan (at 9:00) the rest of these things would have looked way out to me that year. Even the sprinkler; they had those types at that time but that streamlined shape would not be seen in those for a decade or more. Same with the riding lawnmower.
1958 to me was the introduction of the hoola hoop and Popeye Colorforms.
Lots of concepts, some actually executed - on an isolated basis apparently; it would be a few years yet, before the tired styles of the 1950's and before would be abandoned.
That Hudson's store (like the one at Northland, exactly the same architecture, built in 1953) was timeless taste. Those two shopping centers were pure taste. Loved 'em.
Typical late 50's stuff, though. From the time just before we emerged from "the dark ages" far as I was concerned.
October 21, 2013 Subject:
The utopian manufactured world of careful design is shown at its near-apex in this made-for-wide-screen presentation, obviously intended to whet appetites for new products via your local cinema.
In showing the connectedness of the new philosophy in clean and fresh design (even extending to the bowling alley and what one wears in the bowling alley), the viewer is encouraged to look around for other ways (via consumerism) to belong to this brilliant voyage into the ideal.
This approach fits Walt Disney's E.P.C.O.T. plans of about the same era. A homogenous and joyful society enjoys better living through design and industry.